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“Friendship has no borders” - Interview with Madalina Pavel, volunteer in the mentoring programme for the integration of children affected by migration in Romania.

2019-08-20

"Friendship has no borders" - Interview with Madalina Pavel, volunteer in the MINT programme (Mentoring for integration of children affected by migration) in Romania.

Friendship keeps the world together, they say, and Tdh is showing that by helping migrant children and young people in the resident country connect. In the MINT programme, young volunteer mentors from Romania are helping the refugee and migrant children integrate by doing activities with them on a regular basis for several months. Migrant children learn the language and local culture, build friendships by playing and engaging in activities such as sports and cultural festivities. We wanted to know what motivates a volunteer to participate and asked Madalina several questions.

Why did you decide to volunteer with this programme specifically?

There are a bunch of reasons, but the main reason is that I've been doing a lot of research and I am interested in this subject - migration. It's frustrating to read news and understand how these people feel and then just sit and not be able to do anything. So this programme was an opportunity and I got excited. Maybe it will help somebody. It will help me for sure to not feel frustrated about not doing anything for this cause. And then I completely understand their situation, because my husband is also a migrant. So I have a little bit of experience with him on this matter. I think I can be of help for another person in the same situation. And lastly, because I am a Muslim, I would really like to make another Muslim, or anyone, feel better here in Romania. I know life here in Romania is not easy. Romania is not a welcoming country for migrants and I think it can be really tough for them to be here.

What skills do you think you can use for this programme?

My artistic experience and I have some experience working with kids. And then I think I understand the feeling they have as a migrant and I empathize with this a lot. Also, I am interested in psychology and I have been reading a lot, so I can understand a person and approach them from this point of view.

What do you think is most important when it comes to helping migrants?

I think the most important would be to make them feel like they are at home, because they mostly miss their home, the feeling of belonging to some community and to have friends. Friendship is something that has no borders. And of course, the language, but the language is just a code. The most important is the relationship, because then the learning of the language comes. If I communicate very well with a person, then that person will feel attracted to learn the language, actually it comes naturally with time.

What would you tell other Romanians about migrants, is there something you want them to know?

That they are human beings just like us. They are not bad, they are not good. They are just average people. And we have the same feelings. Basically, we feel the same way, all of us. And we respond to the same things. So don't be afraid of them and don't just listen to the news. Talk to a migrant first and try to get some experience with them. And if you want to know more about them, then you can read, but the news does not always get it right about the subject.

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Migrant children and youth are especially vulnerable to social exclusion. Through the MINT project, Terre des hommes (Tdh) and its partners aim at empowering refugee and migrant children as well as European youth to engage in new integration activities. By using an innovative mentoring programme, Tdh contributes to building more inclusive societies in Romania, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovenia.